Visiting any Disney resort is a great decision if you are looking for a nice family vacay destination. There are two theme parks in the US, and they are Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
While people tend to mistake one for another, there are a plethora of differences that distinguish the West Coast from the Orlandian resort. However, there is one thing that is true for both, and that is that you are sure to have a magical time out there.
Maybe you have already been to one and are looking to find out whether there is a point in visiting the other attraction? Or you are yet to experience either of the two parks, and you want to know which one is better.
While no one can draw a uniform conclusion, we will do our best to highlight the differences. We will also discuss why we think that one resort does better than the other in certain aspects.
Let’s get right to it!
The Main Differences Between Disneyland and Disney World
There are a couple of aspects that you may want to consider when determining if Walt Disney World or Disneyland is better suited for your family vacation.
First and foremost, we want to highlight that the resort in Orlando is enormous. It is set within a 43 square mile area, which is as big as two Manhattans put together. This vast area features four different parks, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. The main attraction of this resort is the Cinderella Castle.
Unlike its counterpart, Disneyland is quite small and set at just above 500 acres of land. With the main highlight being the Sleeping Beauty Castle, you will get to enjoy two different parks, including the California Adventure and original Disneyland Park.
Chances are you will want to get as fast as possible from one attraction to another. As you could suppose, the vast Disney World resort is home to a couple of transportation options, including boats, ferries, and a monorail.
On the other hand, Disneyland features a distinguished monorail transportation option. It also has well-made paths that you can walk and enjoy the parades and attractions while going to the next spot.
When it comes to the places that you can stay in, the main highlight of Walt Disney World is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Along with it, there are almost 20 different hotels, of which most include budget suites.
The offer is much smaller for Disneyland, including just three different hotels. However, you are sure to enjoy your time at one of them, including Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, as well as the Disney’’s Grand Californian Hotel.
One of the coolest things about the Walt Disney World is the MagicBand that you will get at the entrance (if you plan to stay, of course). It doesn’t only act as a key, but also as your ticket to the park, and a FastPass to all the attractions.
Something like this still doesn’t exist at the Californian resort. However, there is the so-called “key to the magic”, which is quite similar and that you can use to pay for your meals and souvenirs.
While Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are uniform for both resorts, there are also a couple of rides that distinguish these parks from each other. Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, as well as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train highlight Walt Disney World.
You will be quite happy to enjoy the Finding Nemo Submarine at Disneyland, as well as Mickey’s Fun Wheel, which has become the main attraction of this resort.
Shows and Parades
For those of you that are looking to get their daily dose of entertainment by visiting either of the two resorts, there are a couple of shows you will love. This includes Beauty and the Beast Broadway version at Walt Disney World, as well as Finding Nemo – The Musical at the same resort.
Disneyland is sure to wow you with its World of XCColor as well as Live Hyperion reenactment.
What You Can Do Outside of the Park
In this aspect, Walt Disney World is a clear winner considering the array of activities that you can enjoy. These include jogging, golfing, enjoying water parks, biking, and going for a boat cruise.
Disneyland doesn’t allow much more other than the pool by the hotel side.
The Hidden Tunnels
Last but not least, while both resorts do feature underground tunnels that characters and staff use for passing by, Disneyworld does a much better job in this aspect.
So, as you can see, there are several facilities, as well as staff houses and offices that are used for this purpose. Also, all the trash cleanup and backstage magic happen in these tunnels.
So Which One is Better?
We have done our best to review the main aspects that determine the overall value of both resorts. Frankly, deciding on whether Walt Disney World is more worth it than the Disneyland set in Anaheim is not that easy.
It is a fact that the park in Orlando is highlighted by bigger numbers, and is able to accommodate many more people than the one in California. Also, the number of attractions as well as outside-park activities is where Disney World does a better job.
However, no one can deny that Disneyland is also a place of magic. It can be a spectacular experience, especially for people that enjoyed the Frozen Disney movie or are eager to take Mickey’s Wheel ride.
In the end, when answering “Disneyland vs Disney World: which is better?”, it all does come down to your personal decision. However, keep in mind that if you are planning a family vacation, and your children are below the age of 6, Disneyland seems like a better choice (height requirements, etc.).
Whatever you decide, one thing is certain – you are going to have a spectacular experience! So enjoy every moment of it with your friends and family.
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.